FOOD | Roman-trattoria-style pasta.
VIBE | High energy and bustling.
DECOR | Eclectic Italian with a whiff of downtown cool.
DISH | Spaghetti alla bottarga with white wine, garlic, cream, tarragon and prawn bottarga.
TIP | After dinner, slip back into Frenchie Wine Bar and have another glass.
The fact that you can’t actually see Bread and Circus (B+C) from the street is part of this micro-restaurant’s charm. Tucked in the long narrow space beside Una Pizza + Wine, one has to walk past Una’s takeaway counter to get to B+C, which sits in front of the even more clandestine Frenchie Wine Bar (all three businesses are owned by the BMeX Restaurant Group). And while that’s all a bit odd, it gives B+C the feel of an intimate spot in New York, London or other cities where a tight squeeze and an open kitchen are necessities that come with premium real estate.
But a cool, covert dining room is wasted without great food to back it up and chef Kayle Burns’ Roman trattoria-inspired menu lives up to the room’s potential. Deceptively simple pastas make up the bulk of the menu, but thanks to the chef’s attention and high-quality ingredients, the plates of noodles with bits of guanciale, oxtail, or other meats and heaps of cheese are completely satisfying. With none of the pastas coming in at more than $24, the entrees also make B+C relatively affordable for those popping in for a quick bite and glass of wine.
Burns’ antipasto menu is no slouch either. The generous portion of chicken liver with almonds and the cacio e pepe popcorn (which comes packaged as an aperitivo with a pre-dinner drink) are customer favourites and the seasonally rotating starter menu is filled with other bites to enjoy with B+C’s small but authentically Italian wine and cocktail lists. All of this, coupled with the added show of watching Burns and his team put everything together behind the tiny kitchen bar, makes for an entertaining evening in a remarkable little hideaway.
616 17 Ave. S.W., 403-476-3615, breadandcircusyyc.com